As 2017 winds to an end, it's time to start looking towards the future. 2017, for me, has been the hardest year I've ever faced. Heartbreak and loss made the month of July the darkest time of my life, and to this day I still feel the pangs of those experiences. The one thing I could confide in was music. Through the words and pain in others voices, I found clarity in my own, and have slowly been healing ever since tragedy struck.
The death of Chester Bennington struck the world at its core. It's hard to fathom how many lives he saved, changed, and inspired, and to this day the stories are still being told. Chester was one of my heroes, and little did I think that meeting him at a secret subway show in New York City would be my first and my last time holding his hand. "Thank you for everything" were the words he said to me, full of thankfulness and compassion even though it was just a quick acoustic set in a subway. Chester was a man of integrity and humbleness, his character an inspiration alone.
Losing Chester felt like I was losing a part of me. That voice I depended on daily to jam out to or find inspiration for was no longer with us. I'll never forget the pain of waking up the next day and the reality of my situation kicked in. It took me a long time to be able to listen to Linkin Park again, but fast forward a few months, from uniting the fanbase through LPLive, building a suicide prevention chat for those in need of someone to talk to, and a trip to Los Angeles to see the band's heartbreaking performance at the Hollywood Bowl in October, and here we are with a brand new release from the band. Linkin Park immortalize Chester's spirit in One More Light Live, a compilation of performances from the band's summer tour (Chester's final tour) that saw the group having the time of their lives and, most importantly, showcased Chester as the man we all know and love.
Anyone who's ever seen Linkin Park live or even seen videos of one of their shows will know how electrifying their performances can be. From the electrifying energy of 'Burn It Down' to the badass live version of 'Good Goodbye' featuring Stormzy, One More Light Live gives a great look into how fun a Linkin Park show can be. It's a party from beginning to end, from the haunting, gorgeous 'Fallout' and 'Roads Untraveled' introduction that leads into the stadium-rocking 'Talking To Myself' featuring grand vocals from Chester and epic energy to kick off the show to the anthemic ending of 'Bleed It Out' with Mike Shinoda's vicious deliveries and an awesome sing-a-long bridge to make sure the crowd's having a blast right to the very end.
Chester's voice was not just the product of studio magic; his live performances were among the greatest of any musician out there. Even on the stage, he wore his heart on his sleeve, letting out all of his emotions in 'Heavy' while still nailing the vocals of a pretty vocally intense song. The same is true of 'Sharp Edges,' where the acoustic-driven track is spearheaded by his voice, weathered by the experiences that formed the track. Chester's voice rises up and follows the nature of the instrumental in 'Battle Symphony,' lifting you up and reassuring you that you can accomplish anything.
Chester doesn't like keeping the spotlight on himself all the time, though: the band pauses during the chorus of 'In The End,' allowing the crowd to be the real stars of the night as they heroically chant back the words to the iconic chorus. Linkin Park is always changing things up live, including during the beautiful intro of 'What I've Done' and it's extended guitar solo bridge, featuring a badass scream from Chester. The reworked version of 'Leave Out All The Rest' sounds like the definitive version of the song, the stripped down intro followed by a grand guitar solo and an even more explosive ending sending shivers down your spine. Mike takes lead on 'Invisible,' the sentimental track packed full of emotion and brilliant harmonies from Chester (not to mention that this is all the proof that Mike is capable of carrying Linkin Park forward, should the band choose to follow that path). 'Numb' features an extended intro with an excerpt from the Collision Course mashup 'Numb/Encore,' in which Mike asks the crowd to "Make some noise for Chester Bennington."
The true power of this release lies at its core. There's a run of songs on this album that feel all too painful to listen to. It starts with One More Light opening track 'Nobody Can Save Me,' a heartbreaking track to begin with, made even more tragic by his passing. The opening lines somberly cry out: "I'm dancing with my demons, I'm hanging off the edge." Chester hid his inner demons behind his warm smile, but you can undoubtedly hear the pain in his voice as he performs the song. A powerful performance without the context of his suicide, this 'Nobody Can Save Me' is even more heartbreaking looking back on it. Another punch comes with 'One More Light,' the song that has become the candlelight anthem for fans to depend on with memories of Chester close in mind. The performance here is heartbreaking and beautiful, the tortured scream during the bridge full of raw pain and emotion. Listening to him sing 'One More Light' makes you feel like his soul is right there next to you, comforting you, telling you it's okay. The sentiment of "Who cares if one more light goes out? Well I do" is what reminds us that even though he's gone, he's here with us in spirit, and he'll continue to walk by our sides down every road. The final part of the run comes with the piano version of 'Crawling,' the music video for this performance of the song and the intimacy of this version showing one final time that no matter how much pain Chester endured, he loved the fans with all of his heart. Every word, every note, and every scream he made came from the bottom of his heart, and he made sure that no one was alone.
Linkin Park immortalize Chester's spirit in One More Light Live, bidding him one more farewell as 2017 comes to a close. Linkin Park is a band that has affected every person on this planet, whether that involves making someone dance, getting someone through middle school, or establishing a lifelong love with their music. Chester's voice was the force that gave us clarity in our darkest moments, and it's a gift we will always have. Chester will live on besides us, carrying us through the rough times ahead and the moments of uncertainty we are yet to face. We care if one more light goes out.
Thank you to Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, Joe Hahn, Rob Bourdon, Phoenix, and Chester Bennington for the music you've made and for whatever comes next. Thank you to Mike and Chester for supporting Immortal Reviews and LPLive. Thank you to Chester for all the inspiration.
Rest in peace, Chester Bennington.
Favorite Tracks: Crawling, One More Light, Nobody Can Save Me, Sharp Edges, Talking To Myself
Least Favorite Track: Bleed It Out
Rating: 94 / 100
Stream or buy One More Light Live on Apple Music: